Things are getting increasingly tough for Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) in Bihar ahead of the Lok Sabha elections as leaders are either moving out of the party or creating a situation for it to expel them.
To make things worse, minority leaders have been ditching the party virtually putting a question mark over JD(U)'s minority plank, which the Rashtriya Janata Dal-Congress alliance is also eyeing to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA.
Kumar had severed the party's 17-year-old ties with the BJP over the issue of minorities soon after the saffron party projected Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.
On Monday, JD(U)'s candidate from Sheohar Lok Sabha seat Shabir Ali was expelled from the party after he praised Modi.
"Modi's policies (in Gujarat) are good and Modi's work for development is also laudable," he had said.
Ali, who is a Rajya Sabha member, went to Upper House in 2008 as a nominee of Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party, but defected to the JD(U) in November, 2011.
He was a vocal and most visible minority face of the party till a month ago, but he was denied party ticket along with Shivanand Tiwari.
Tiwari was also expelled for his "anti-party utterances" along with three other MPs, and NK Singh, who joined the BJP three days ago. Tiwari had been in the line of fire ever since he praised Modi during a party meet in Nalanda.
Ali is tipped to join the BJP, which will hurt the JD(U) all the more.
Social welfare minister Parveen Amanullah had quit the Nitish government as well as the party to join the Aam Aadmi Party. She will now fight the Lok Sabha elections from Patna Sahib seat.
Another minority face of JD(U) and sitting MP from Begusarai, Monazir Hassan, is also not happy after being denied ticket this time.
The ticket has been given to JD(U)'s lone alliance partner in Bihar – CPI.
On February 27 last year, the party had expelled Lok Sabha members Captain Jainarain Nishad (from Muzaffarpur), Purnmasi Ram (Gopalganj), Sushil Kumar Singh (Aurangabad) and Mangani Lal Mandal (Jhanjharpur). Nishad's son is now a BJP candidate from Muzaffarpur, as is Sushil Singh from Aurangabad.
The BJP has been quick to latch on to these developments.
"Nitish Kumar should not take minorities for granted. They are all moving towards the BJP, as they have realised the votebank politics being played in the name of secularism. Why after all are the minorities leaving JD(U)? Earlier, former excise minister Jamshed Ashraf was also eased out," said BJP national spokesperson Syed Shahanwaz Hussain.
JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar, on the other hand, questioned the ideology of the leaders.
"It is indeed strange how their entire viewpoint could change overnight due to denial of ticket. Everyone wants to fight, but this does not mean what is visible now," he added.